Little Ted’s nursery worker Vanessa George charged with child abuse

Dozens of parents are waiting to discover whether their children were among those allegedly assaulted by a nursery worker charged with sexual abuse of those in her care.

Vanessa George, a mother of two, will appear in court today charged with seven offences, including two of sexual assault by penetration and two of sexual assault by touching. She was also charged with making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children.

Mrs George, 39, was arrested on Monday night after indecent images of children taken at Little Ted’s Day Nursery in Plymouth, were found on a computer disc seized by police from a suspected paedophile in Manchester.

Police said yesterday that the photographs included pictures of children’s torsos taken on a camera phone at the nursery, where Mrs George is believed to have worked for the past two years.

So far, none of the children has been identified, and the officer leading the investigation said that some of them might never be. Parents of the 64 children, aged between 2 and 5, have been asked to complete a questionnaire and list any features that could help to identify individual children from the images.

Computers and other equipment seized during raids on the nursery, in the grounds of Laira Primary School, and on Mrs George’s home are being examined by experts from Devon and Cornwall police.

Chief Superintendent Jim Webster, the police commander for Plymouth, said: “It is a disturbing situation. As we go through the painstaking task of identifying who may be concerned, we are focusing on communication with the families we believe are involved.”

Russ Middleton, the head of Plymouth CID, said: “At this time we have been unable to identify any images of individual children and it is right to say some images may never be identified.” The number of photographs being examined by the computer experts could eventually run into thousands, Mr Middleton said, though he could not say how many had been taken in the nursery.

He added: “We have specially trained officers looking at the images. We have a large number taken from laptops and PCs but the starting point was from a camera phone. Some of these images were clearly taken inside the nursery but it is impossible to say where others were taken.”

Mr Middleton would not disclose in what capacity Mrs George was employed at the nursery or whether she had undergone a criminal records check.

Plymouth City Council said: “As a private day care nursery provider, the unit’s management would have a duty to ensure all staff had the appropriate CRB [Criminal Records Bureau] checks carried out.”

Paul O’Sullivan, the director of Health Services for Children and Families, said that a support line had been opened to provide advice to concerned parents.

Mrs George’s arrest followed that of Colin Blanchard, who appeared at Trafford Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged with possessing and distributing indecent images.

Officers searched a caravan that Mrs George owns at Harlyn Bay near Padstow, Cornwall, in addition to the family home in the Efford area of Plymouth. Police said that her husband, Andrew, and two teenage children had been taken into “protective care”.

Police will be speaking to the nursery’s 15 other members of staff but say they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the investigation.